By Daniel Fierman
Updated November 24, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

”It’s nice to think back,” says Emma (Juliette Binoche). ”Isn’t it?” In Betrayal, the answer is no. Starting with a stilted pub encounter and working its way in reverse, Harold Pinter’s hypnotizing 1978 play sketches the story of a seven-year affair that destroys a marriage. David Leveaux earned a Tony nom this year for directing similar dysfunction (The Real Thing) and his sure hand shows. Betrayal is beautifully staged and steeped in delicate, sharp-edged conversation; the staccato dialogue of old hurts. Winding back to the beginning of Emma’s tryst with book agent Jerry (Liev Schreiber) is like recalling any shattered affair. You start with the final dull ache and end with the initial erotic urge — here, Emma and Jerry’s reckless kiss at a smoky party. A-